The journey of a 1000 miles begins with a single step

Academia

Rhythm of Breathing Affects Memory and Fear

Rhythm of Breathing Affects Memory and Fear

Novartis Otrivin 'Pleasure Of Breathing', Press 2010

Summary: A new study reports the rhythm of your breathing can influence neural activity that enhances memory recall and emotional judgement.

Source: Northwestern University.

Breathing is not just for oxygen; it’s now linked to brain function and behavior.

Northwestern Medicine scientists have discovered for the first time that the rhythm of breathing creates electrical activity in the human brain that enhances emotional judgments and memory recall.

These effects on behavior depend critically on whether you inhale or exhale and whether you breathe through the nose or mouth.

In the study, individuals were able to identify a fearful face more quickly if they encountered the face when breathing in compared to breathing out. Individuals also were more likely to remember an object if they encountered it on the inhaled breath than the exhaled one. The effect disappeared if breathing was through the mouth.

“One of the major findings in this study is that there is a dramatic difference in brain activity in the amygdala and hippocampus during inhalation compared with exhalation,” said lead author Christina Zelano, assistant professor of neurology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. “When you breathe in, we discovered you are stimulating neurons in the olfactory cortex, amygdala and hippocampus, all across the limbic system.”

The study was published Dec. 6 in the Journal of Neuroscience.

The senior author is Jay Gottfried, professor of neurology at Feinberg.

Northwestern scientists first discovered these differences in brain activity while studying seven patients with epilepsy who were scheduled for brain surgery. A week prior to surgery, a surgeon implanted electrodes into the patients’ brains in order to identify the origin of their seizures. This allowed scientists to acquire electro-physiological data directly from their brains. The recorded electrical signals showed brain activity fluctuated with breathing. The activity occurs in brain areas where emotions, memory and smells are processed.

This discovery led scientists to ask whether cognitive functions typically associated with these brain areas — in particular fear processing and memory — could also be affected by breathing.

Image shows the location of the amygdala in the brain.

The amygdala is strongly linked to emotional processing, in particular fear-related emotions. So scientists asked about 60 subjects to make rapid decisions on emotional expressions in the lab environment while recording their breathing. Presented with pictures of faces showing expressions of either fear or surprise, the subjects had to indicate, as quickly as they could, which emotion each face was expressing. NeuroscienceNews.com image is for illustrative purposes only.

The amygdala is strongly linked to emotional processing, in particular, fear-related emotions. So scientists asked about 60 subjects to make rapid decisions on emotional expressions in the lab environment while recording their breathing. Presented with pictures of faces showing expressions of either fear or surprise, the subjects had to indicate, as quickly as they could, which emotion each face was expressing.

When faces were encountered during inhalation, subjects recognized them as fearful more quickly than when faces were encountered during exhalation. This was not true for faces expressing surprise. These effects diminished when subjects performed the same task while breathing through their mouths. Thus the effect was specific to fearful stimuli during nasal breathing only.

In an experiment aimed at assessing memory function — tied to the hippocampus — the same subjects were shown pictures of objects on a computer screen and told to remember them. Later, they were asked to recall those objects. Researchers found that recall was better if the images were encountered during inhalation.

The findings imply that rapid breathing may confer an advantage when someone is in a dangerous situation, Zelano said.

“If you are in a panic state, your breathing rhythm becomes faster,” Zelano said. “As a result, you’ll spend proportionally more time inhaling than when in a calm state. Thus, our body’s innate response to fear with faster breathing could have a positive impact on brain function and result in faster response times to dangerous stimuli in the environment.”

Another potential insight of the research is on the basic mechanisms of meditation or focused breathing. “When you inhale, you are in a sense synchronizing brain oscillations across the limbic network,” Zelano noted.


Princeton Theological Seminary Digitizes 70,000+ Religious Texts, Letting You Immerse Yourself in the Curious Works of Great World Religions

Enter the online Princeton Theological Seminary Library here.

Source link

http://www.openculture.com

 

 

 

 

 

It is maybe easy for those unfamiliar with the study of religion to reduce the academic discipline to a ponderous exercise—self-serious, obsessed with tradition, rendered suspect by histories of violence and highly implausible, contradictory claims. But this is a mistake. For one thing, as scholar of religion Wilfred Cantwell Smith once wrote, “the study of religion is the study of persons”—quite broadly, he suggests, to study religion is to study humanity: anthropology, sociology, history, art, literature, philosophy, mythology, psychology, etc. Studying religion can also be—contrary to certain stereotypes—a great deal of fun.

In what other scholarly pursuit, after all, can one read Reginald Scot, Esquire’s 1584 The Discoverie of Witchcraft, L. Austine Waddell’s 1805 The Buddhism of Tibet, and J.G. Frazer’s 1894 The Golden Bough, inspiration for T.S. Eliot’s poetry and spiritual ancestor to Joseph Campbell’s popular comparative work The Hero with a Thousand Faces?

But of course, not many an advanced scholar would find him or herself immersed in all of these texts, specializing, as they must, in one particular area. Those of us who are merely curious, however, or insatiably curious, can do as we please in the theology library, thumbing through whatever strikes our fancy.

We may do so from the comfort of wherever we can get wifi thanks to Princeton Theological Seminary’s Theological Commons‘ project with the Internet Archive, which has digitized over 70,000 texts from the Princeton Theological Seminary Library, spanning hundreds of years and nearly every conceivable religious subject. Yes, there are shelves of hymnals, hardly the kind of thing to generate much interest among any but the most devout or the most deeply-down-a-scholarly-rabbit-hole. But there are also many fascinating gems like Jacob Grimm’s 1882-88 Teutonic Mythology in four volumes (translated into English), like E.A. Wallis Budge’s beautifully illustrated 1911 Osiris and the Egyptian Resurrection, and like Wesleyan minister Charles Roberts’ 1899 The Zulu-Kafir Language Simplified for Beginners.

Like many texts written by colonial observers and Orientalist scholars, some of these books may tell us as much or more about their authors than about the purported subjects—we encounter in religious scholarship no more nor less bias than in any other field, though piety is given license to take more overt forms. Unfortunately, as Cantwell Smith wrote, “the traditional form of Western scholarship in the study of other men’s religion was that of an impersonal presentation of an ‘it.’” But these outdated views are themselves instructive—as part of a process towards a wider humanist understanding, “the gradual recognition of what was always true in principle, but was not always grasped.”

For students and professional scholars, the Princeton digital library is obviously, well… a godsend. For the merely—or insatiably—curious, it is an open invitation to explore strange new worlds, so to speak, and to realize, again and again, that they’re all the same world, seen in innumerably different ways. In this archive, you’ll find primary texts and commentaries on Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, Judaism, Zoroastrianism, Greek and Egyptian religions, indigenous faiths of all kinds, and, of course, given the source, plenty of Christianity (like the 1606, pre-King James Bible at the top). “The next step,” writes Cantwell Smith, in moving the study of religion forward, “is a dialogue…. If there is listening and mutuality… the culmination of this progress is when ‘we all’ are talking with each other about ‘us.’”

Enter the online Princeton Theological Seminary Library here.

Related Content:

Harvard Launches a Free Online Course to Promote Religious Tolerance & Understanding

Philosophy of Religion: A Free Online Course 

Free Online Religion Courses 

Josh Jones is a writer and musician based in Durham, NC. Follow him at @jdmagness